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SLUDGE VICTIMS

May 2001 update - compiled by Helane Shields - prepared for WWW by ESRA

IN AUGUST 2000, NIOSH issued another Hazard Identification Report 2000-158 regarding workers exposed to Class B sewage sludge during and after field application.

"All five employees reported at least one episode of gastrointestinal illness after working with the biosolids, either at the treatment plant or during land application."

"The environmental sampling results indicated that the gastrointestinal illnesses were possibly of occupational origin."

"NIOSH collected bulk samples from different locations within the biosolids storage site. The mean fecal coliform concentration of the bulk samples was 220,000 CFU per gram of sample (wet weight). Fecal coliforms are used as an indicator for the presence of other enteric microorganisms."

"THERE REMAINS A SIGNIFICANT EXPOSURE RISK."

"These enteric organisms are usually associated with self-limited gastrointestinal illness but can develop into more serious diseases in sensitive populations such as immunocompromised individuals, infants, young children, and the elderly."

"NIOSH collected air samples for bacteria and endotoxin (a component of some bacteria), and bulk sewage sludge samples for fecal coliform bacteria at a Class B biosolids land application processing facility. Potentially pathogenic bacteria were found in bulk samples and in some air samples. Employee gastrointestinal illnesses at that facility may have been caused by ingestion or inhalation of Class B biosolids. "

"Appropriate personal protective equipment should be required for all job duties likely to result in exposure to Class B biosolids. The choices of personal protective equipment include goggles, splash-proof face shields, RESPIRATORS, liquid-repellant coveralls, and gloves".

[NEIGHBORS of sludge sites unfortunately are not warned that they too may need respirators.]

INTRO p.2


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